Tips to Survive Holiday Travel with Kids


Late nights. Too much sugar. Present overload. Another flight. Another car trip. More shows. More snacks. More tantrums.

Ring a bell? The holidays, especially holiday travel with young children, can take its toll.

In theory, the holidays are a sweet, special time to celebrate with friends and family. In reality, it is a time when parents often lose their patience and think they’ll lose their minds as their children seemingly turn into little sugar and present-obsessed monsters. My goal this year is to focus on making new memories with my boys and not get overwhelmed by the travel hiccups along the way. 

For the past three years, we lived in Florida and traveled by plane back to Texas for the holidays. We would fly to each family for a week or so. I learned what to do and what not to do on planes, especially since I flew solo with the kid(s) on many of the flights. Now we are back in Texas and learning how to travel by car. This year we will be driving 7-10 hours to spend the holidays with our families. So as I already begin to mentally prepare for our mega-road trip, here are 4 tips for surviving holiday travel with young children:

1. The Bucket. This fall we traveled to Dallas by car, and I discovered the bucket idea on a late night desperate Pinterest search. It was a lifesaver and game-changer. Quite simply, it is a bucket. But it is filled to the brim with toys and books perfect for 1-2 year olds. They are at such a difficult age to keep entertained in a car. They are too young to truly watch shows and too old to sleep for the duration of the drive. The bucket is placed within hand’s reach of the child, and no lie, it kept my 13 month old entertained a majority of the seven hour drive.

2. Pack Extra of Everything! PJs, diapers, wipes, pacifiers, and anything else you can imagine. I run out on an emergency pacifier shopping trip nearly every vacation. You would think that I would learn. In addition, pack trash bags either in the car or your diaper bag if flying. You never know when your kids could have a poop disaster, pee through clothes, or throw up. You know the drill. Like a good Girl Scout, always be prepared.

holiday travel

3. Pack Food for an Army…. or Two Small Children. My children eat a majority of the food I pack within the first three hours of a road trip or the first leg of the flight. Pack double of what you think you need. My children tend to love string cheese, applesauce pouches, goldfish, peanut butter sandwiches, breakfast bars, apples, and carrots. And don’t worry, an entire day of goldfish and veggie straws with a couple suckers won’t do too much damage to your children (*I think.)

4. Attempt to Maintain Pieces of Your Child’s Normal Routine. Once you arrive at your destination, try to replicate parts of your children’s schedule. Be sure to pack the items that help recreate your children’s nap and bedtime routine– blankies, stuffed animals, sound machines, sleep sacks, night lights, and favorite books. These items will help your children feel safe and comfortable in a new environment, and they will hopefully ensure a smoother transition and more sleep for all!

holiday travel

What tips have worked for you? How do you survive the holiday travel with your children?